Former Republican President George W. Bush called immigration a “blessing” and a “strength” while speaking at his presidential center in Dallas.
“America’s elected representatives have a duty to regulate who comes in and when,” the 43rd president said Monday during a naturalization ceremony at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, an event that included dozens of newly minted U.S. citizens. “In meeting this responsibility, it helps to remember that America’s immigrant history made us who we are. Amid all the complications of policy, may we never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength.”
Bush was not alone during the ceremony. His wife, former first lady Laura Bush, also spoke and praised the benefits of immigration.
“We’re a much richer state for all the cultures that have settled on our land,” stated the former first lady.
During his speech, the 43rd president called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform — a measure that was also largely sought after by the Obama administration. The comments were in lockstep George Bush’s policy goals during his own presidency. The 43rd president is now considered more moderate on immigration than where the Republican Party currently stands in the Trump era.
However, the Texas Republican also touted the need for sovereign borders, and he praised the work of Border Patrol agents.
“Borders are not arbitrary, and they need to be respected along with the fine men and women of the immigration services and the Border Patrol,” George Bush continued Monday. The words were in contrast to the rising number of Democrats who have bemoaned immigration agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and have called for the agency to be abolished altogether.
The relationship between President Donald Trump and the Bush family is notably rocky.
During the 2016 Republican primaries, Trump continuously mocked George Bush’s younger brother, Jeb Bush, whom he referred to as “low energy.” In an indirect reference to the Trump administration, the 43rd president in October 2017 suggested Trump promoted bigotry. Jeb Bush said during an interview in March he wanted to see a Republican candidate launch a primary campaign against the current president.
“I think someone should run just because Republicans ought to be given a choice,” Jeb Bush said during an interview with CNN’s David Axelrod. “It’s hard to beat a sitting president, but to have a conversation about what it is to be a conservative — I think it’s important.”
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